Serena Williams had a baby daughter in September, went to the royal wedding in May and then withdrew from the French Open in June because of an injury before she was to play Maria Sharapova in the fourth round of the Grand Slam tournament.
All in all, it’s been a hectic, certainly different year for Williams, one basically spent away from the sport she has dominated for over a decade.
And on the eve of Wimbledon, this seemed to send those in charge of seeding into a tizzy, as if the greatest player of her generation might not be worthy, or have earned, the respect she deserved.
Sure enough, Williams came to London ranked No. 181 in the world. And in addition, she was assigned the 25th seed in the field, a decision apparently based on the presumption it would be unfair to her competitors who have played all year.
On the day the seeds were announced, Williams, who is looking for her eighth Wimbledon title, reacted with the type of common sense one might have expected.
“I think I would be very ungrateful if I sat here and said [the seeding] was too low, to be honest. I don’t at all feel that way. In fact, I was pleasantly surprised. I came in here expecting that maybe I wouldn’t get a seed.
“I do know Wimbledon tends to kind of beat to their own drum. That’s kind of one thing that’s been able to set them apart.”
Well, how does everyone feel about it now that Williams has advanced to the semifinals? If she wins, and don’t bet against it, she will tie Margaret Court’s mark of 24 Grand Slam singles titles.
If she does, don’t be surprised if holds the trophy at the All England Club in one hand and her daughter, Alexis Olympia, in the other, kind of a tribute to working mothers all over the world.
And if she does, it will be in spite of the presence of her former boyfriend, the singer Drake, who showed up to watch her play in the quarterfinals.
According to Yahoo.com, some of Serena’s fans implored Drake to take a hike, fearing he might distract her or bring her bad luck.
Said one fan on Twitter: “@serenawilliams HASNT DROPPED A SET ALL WEEK AND HERE COME @Drake!
Williams, 36, advanced to the semis with a three-set win over Italian Camila Giorgi, who came into the tournament unseeded.
By the way, Serena’s loss in the first set ended a 20-set win streak at the event dating to 2016. Williams wrapped things up using her customary power serve, some reaching 122 mph, to win her last three service games at love. It was in that third set that she had six of her seven aces on the way to winning 44 of the last 54 points she served.
“It’s weird, sometimes I feel, ‘Man, I’m in trouble,’” said after the match. “For whatever reason, today I was so calm. Even when I was down the first set, I thought, ‘Well, she’s playing great. I’m doing a lot of right things. It is what is.”
Not that Williams needs the break, but because of her seeding she hasn’t faced anyone ranked among the top 50 on her way to the semifinals. That will end against No. 13 Julia Goerges of Germany on Thursday. It will be her 35th Grand Slam semifinal.
Williams’ play notwithstanding, it has already been an unusual women’s tournament. For the first time in grand slam history, none of the top ten seeds made it to the quarterfinals.
Williams defeated Goerges at Roland Garros before playing Sharapova, whom she’d beaten 18 times in a row since 2004. It was in France where Serena was injured during a third-round doubles match with Venus.
But her comeback has progressed slowly. She was bounced in the third round by her sister, Venus, at Indian Wells and then was eliminated in the first round bv Naomi Osaka at Miami.
“I’m just here just to be here and to prove that I’m back,” Williams told ESPN.com. “And I feel like I’m back. I still have a long way to go to be where I was.”